Updated Feb 3, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin calls for censuring Trump

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on the Senate floor Wednesday that Congress should censure President Trump over his actions in Ukraine.

What he's saying:

"I see no path to the 67 votes required to impeach. ... However, I do believe a bipartisan majority of this body would vote to censure President Trump for his actions in this manner. Censure would allow this body to unite across party lines and as an equal branch of government to formally denounce the president's actions and hold him accountable."

Why it matters: Manchin, a moderate Democrat from a red state, says he's undecided on whether to acquit Trump. While censure holds no tangible punishment, it's a symbolic measure that formally condemns an official's behavior. Andrew Jackson is the only president to be censured by the Senate.

  • A number of Republican senators have said that while they do not believe Trump should be removed from office, they believe his actions toward Ukraine were inappropriate.

Between the lines, via Axios' Alayna Treene: The issue with a censure vote is that most Senate Republicans don't think it's viable and argue that the impeachment process is too far along.

  • A censure resolution was originally seen as a way to give more moderate senators an “out” — allowing them to formally disapprove of Trump’s behavior without voting to convict him.
  • But as moderate senators from both parties were forced to make a tough call on the witness vote last Friday, the benefits of a censure vote for these senators declined immensely.

Worth noting: For Manchin, who may be one of the few Democrats to vote to acquit Trump, proposing a censure as an alternative could give him the latitude to say he still disapproved of the president's behavior and sought another remedy.

Read Manchin's resolution.

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